The first shots in the ongoing War for the Planet of the Apes have been fired. Fox lifted the embargo on Matt Reeves' upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes early, meaning critics were able to weigh in on the July blockbuster weeks before it opened. This was a clear sign of confidence in Reeves' vision for a movie that's being described as the finale in a trilogy centered around Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his family of intelligent apes. And they are being rewarded with fantastic reviews.

Our own Mike Reyes reviewed Matt Reeves' War for the Planet of the Apes on CinemaBlend, calling it "possibly the best film of the summer." High praise. Reyes went on to write:

The expectation was that War for the Planet of the Apes would be a finale that would under perform, as most third films do. It pleases me to say that not only is the film more epic than its predecessors, it's a truly satisfying finale to Caesar's trilogy of films.

The chatter already is starting to swirl that Andy Serkis might deserve Oscar consideration for the emotional, multi-faceted work he does (via motion-capture) as the lead ape, Caesar. In his review for USA Today, Brian Truitt writes:

It was a shame that Serkis' mo-cap role as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings films didn't snag him an Oscar nomination. But it's truly an injustice if Serkis' third --- and best --- turn as Caesar doesn't get a serious push. While it's probably still a long shot (no mo-cap performance has ever garnered an acting nomination), what he accomplishes here is monumental.

Slant Magazine also takes the high road on War for the Planet of the Apes, praising the scope of the storytelling in what's thought to be a mindless summer-blockbuster vacuum. They state:

War for the Planet of the Apes is a film that resides in an ethical grey zone, teeming with grand post-human vistas whose shadings of light and shadow are redolent of how the world is poised between salvation and oblivion. The smattering of secluded ruins blotting mountains and forests---a broken-down truck here, an old home there---makes it seem as if humanity is already part of a bygone era.

And The Playlist makes a direct comparison to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight saga, stating:

Reeves' concluding chapter goes out on a seriously high note. And not unlike each entry in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight series, rather than moving on onto another unrelated adventure, the director examines the consequences from previous films and adroitly brings the entire narrative full circle to the hostile laws of nature, the cruel irony of evolution, and the indictment of mankind that's fundamental to the Apes saga.

It's not all positive, mind you. The Film Stage was less than impressed, writing:

Much of the two-plus hours finds Reeves feigning character development with drawn-out close-ups that register as little more than an ostentatious showcase for the peerless visual effects.

But in general, War for the Planet of the Apes is being heralded as a powerful and worthy capper for the Caesar-led Planet of the Apes movies, which brings this chapter to a close but lays the groundwork for future Apes stories in another director's hands. The sequel opens in theaters on July 14. And head over here for a complete rundown of the rest of the movies opening in theaters in 2017.

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